The Big Show
- Publication date
THE BIG SHOW
The Big Show was an NBC variety program that ran from November 5, 1950, to April 20, 1952. It consisted of 57 episodes, spread across two seasons. Season one consisted of 27 episodes, and season two was 30 episodes. Each episode lasted 90-minutes on Sunday night from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. for the first season. The second season was broadcast from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., Eastern time.
Tallulah Bankhead was the mistress of ceremonies. Guests included Fred Allen, Jimmy Durante, Portland Hoffa, Ethel Merman, Danny Thomas, Meredith Wilson, and dozens of other high-profile stars of radio and motion pictures.
NBC seemed to believe that the more money invested in each episode, the bigger the impact on its listeners. $100,000 or more could be budgeted for each episode. Adjusting the cost to account for inflation, that would mean that each episode would cost about $1 million in today’s currency.
The show’s success, in addition to the guest stars each week, was partially attributed to Bankhead’s ability to ad-lib. Also, one of the writers was Goodman Ace, considered by some to be one of the funniest writers in radio. He was also responsible for creating Easy Aces. In her memoirs, Bankhead stated that she took the show because she needed the money. She was afraid she would be relegated to a standard mistress of ceremonies role, simply introducing each guest before they performed. However, her humor and ease of interacting with her guests generated rave reviews from the critics.
Premiering at a time when radio was on the wane, and television was just coming into its own, The Big Show was an attempt to keep the audience away from TV and glued to their radio. There was another reason, however, that NBC decided to air such a high-profile show with its high-budget episodes. That reason was revenge. CBS head William S. Paley snagged some of NBC's biggest names in a broadcast milestone known as the "talent raid." Paley stole Amos and Andy, Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Edgar Bergen, Red Skelton, and even Ozzie and Harriet's show. Paley accomplish this feat by paying personal attention to the talent at NBC. David Sarnoff, the head of NBC, generally did not mingle with the talent, so Paley's interest in personal attention was probably seen as something to which the actors would respond positively.
The Big Show was scheduled on Sunday nights hoping to lure listeners away from the number one CBS shows; Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen, and Amos and Andy. Overall, however, they were totally unsuccessful. In its two seasons The Big Show never scored in the top 20 radio shows. In fact, it finished in last place in its 90-minute time period.
Since today you do not have to choose between the CBS shows and the NBC shows, you should find it very entertaining to listen to The Big Show. Each show can be an experience of listening pleasure.
The definitive work on this series was written by Martin Grams, Jr. and published in 2019. His thorough investigation of The Big Show can be found at Amazon and his website www.martingrams.biz.
OTRR Release Information:
Release Status: OTRR Maintained
Release Date: November, 2021
Release Version: Version 2111
Number of DVDs: 4
NOTE: Updated Release! (November 2021). Upgraded single episode 1951-09-30.
Previous Release Version 2109,September 2021. Upgraded quality of shows; corrected spelling.
Previous Release Version 2105, May-2021. Includes 21 new and upgrades from mp3 to flac for all other episodes. Also some new ads and updated doc
Previous Release Version 3, June 12, 2012. Fixed known issues with mp3s freezing or skipping in eps 7, 24; converted docs to pdfs; added new certification files
From the Old Time Radio Researchers Group. See "Notes" Section below for more information on the OTRR.
OLD TIME RADIO RESEARCHERS GROUP
This is a production of the Old Time Radio Researchers (OTRR) Group located at Old Time Radio Researchers Website (www.otrr.org), Old Time Radio Researchers Facebook Group, and Old Time Radio Researchers Group.
It contains the most complete and accurate version of this series in the best sound possible at the time of creation. An updated version will be issued if more episodes or better sounding ones become available.
If you are interested in preserving Old Time Radio (OTR), you may wish to join the Old Time Radio Researchers Group at Facebook and Groups.io.
Relax, listen, and enjoy!
OTRR Maintained Set -- This set contains all known episodes in the best available audio condition with the most accurate dates and titles known to be in general circulation and based on current research at the time of release. Replaces OTRR Certified Accurate and OTRR Certified Complete.
OTRR Non-Maintained Set -- A collection of shows that has not gone through the OTRR Maintenance process.
Pre-2019 OTRR Definitions:
OTRR Certified Accurate -- A series that was "Certified Accurate" indicated that all the episodes were properly identified and labeled based on current information but that the series did not contain all known extant episodes.
OTRR Certified Complete -- A series that was "Certified Complete" achieved the highest level of certification available under the OTRR Certified Standards. This certification level implied that all the files in the series were "Certified Accurate" and also indicated that the series was as complete as possible and included all circulating episodes.
OTRR Non-Certified -- A collection of shows that has not gone through the OTRR Certification process.
Also, beginning in 2019, the version numbers of our OTRR releases changed format -- instead of v1.0 or v2.1, we are now using a version number that reflects the year and month the set was released. The format used is a two-digit year followed by a two-digit month. For example, "v1906" indicates a set that was released in June 2019, or "v1910" indicates a set released in October 2019.
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- 2006-12-19 20:53:46
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